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 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]

The first TCEC was in 2010. 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 all-day live broadcasts of chess matches on its website. Supported by original engine authors and based on voluntarism and donation, it caused a furor in February 2011, when the free version of Houdini defeated reigning computer chess champion Rybka in a 40-game match.[5][6]

The current season of TCEC is sponsored by Chessdom Arena.[7][8]. The current TCEC champion is Stockfish 8, which defeated Houdini 5 in the TCEC Season 9 Superfinal 100-game match held in November - December 2016.[9]

Overview[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 4 qualifying stages and 1 Superfinal, where the top two chess engines battle it out over a series of 64 games to win the title of TCEC Grand Champion.

The time control in all events is 120+30 (120 minutes + 30 seconds added per move for the whole game) and pondering is set to off. The Opening Book is taken from recent strong human Grandmaster tournaments, is truncated to the first 6 or 8 moves, and is changed in every Stage. Engines are allowed updates between stages, unless there is a critical play-limiting bug, in which case the engine are allowed to be updated once during the stage. 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.

There is no definite criterium for entering into the competition, other than inviting the top participants from various rating lists. The list of participants is personally chosen by Thoresen before the start of any new season. His stated goal is to include "every major engine that is not a direct clone".[10] Usually chess engines that support multiprocessor mode are preferred (8-cores or higher). Both Winboard and UCI engines are supported. Large pages are disabled but access to various endgame tablebases is permitted.

Stage General Information1
Stage 1 Stage 1 is divided into 2 groups which consist of 14 engines each. Each group format is a single round robin. The top 7 from each group will move on to Stage 2.
Stage 2 Stage 2 consists of the 14 engines that qualified from Stage 1. It is also a single round robin. It does not use an opening book. The top 8 move on to Stage 3.
Stage 3 Stage 3 consists of the 8 engines that qualified from Stage 2. The format for Stage 3 is a tetra round robin (x 4) so that each engine will play both sides of the same opening against each other, twice. The top 4 will move on to Stage 4.
Stage 4 Stage 4 consists of the 4 engines that qualified from Stage 3. It is a dodeca round robin (x 12) and the openings are chosen randomly per pair so that each engine will play both sides of the same opening against each other. The top 2 will qualify to play the Superfinal.
Superfinal After Stage 4 has finished, the top 2 engines will meet in a Superfinal of 64 games. This match is played with 32 different openings so that each engine plays both black and white of the same position. The match will be presented with opening 1 used in games 1 and 2, then opening 2 used in games 3 and 4 etc. If the match is theoretically won for one side before game 64, the match will still continue until all 64 games have been played. In the case of a drawn match 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'. When the Superfinal is over, the current Season ends.
1 Rules may differ from season to season

GUI adjudication rule[edit]

A game can be drawn by threefold repetition or fifty-move rule. However, a game can also be drawn at move 40 or later if the eval from both playing engines are within +0.05 to -0.05 pawns for the last five moves, or ten plies. If there is a pawn advance or a capture, this special draw rule resets and starts over. On the website, this rule shows as "Distance in plies to TCEC draw rule". It adjudicates as won for one side if both playing engines have an evaluation of at least 6.50 pawns (or -6.50 in case of a black win) for four consecutive moves, or eight plies - this rule is in effect as soon as the game starts. The GUI also adjudicates tablebase endgame positions (with 5-men or less) automatically.

Technical specifications (Season 7)[edit]

 The TCEC Computer:
 CPUs: 2 x 8 core Intel Xeon E5-2689 @ 3300 MHz
 CPU Coolers: 2 x Corsair H80i
 Motherboard: Asus Z9PE-D8 WS
 RAM: 64 GB Kingston KVR16R11D4K4/32 Reg/ECC
 PSU: Corsair AX 760
 SSDs: 2 x Samsung 840 Pro 128 GB @ Raid 0
 Case: Silverstone Raven RV03B-WA
 OS: Windows 7 Professional
 Configuration:
 Graphical User Interface (GUI): cutechess-cli (custom)
 Protocol: Winboard, UCI
 Large Pages: OFF
 Number of Cores/Threads (per engine): 8 or 16
 Split Depth: DEFAULT
 Main Hash Size: 16 GB (Maximum)
 Minor Hash Size: 1 GB
 Engine Opening Book: OFF
 Endgame Tablebases: 6-men Syzygy, 5-men Nalimov, 5-men Gaviota (cp2), 
   5-men Shredderbases and 5-men Robbobases (Totalbases + Triplebases) supported
 Tablebase Cache: 1024 MB (Maximum)
 Ponder/Permanent Brain: OFF
 Contempt/Draw Score: DEFAULT

N.B.: tablebases were disabled for all engines for the whole of Season 7.[10]

Technical specifications (Season 8)[edit]

 The TCEC Computer:
 CPUs: 2 x 10 core Intel Xeon E5-2650v3 @ 2600 MHz
 Motherboard: Supermicro X10DRL-i
 RAM: 128 GB Samsung DDR4 Reg/ECC
 SSD: Kingston 64 GB
 Chassis: Supermicro
 OS: Windows Server 2012 R2
 Configuration:
 Protocol: Winboard, UCI
 Large Pages: OFF
 Number of Cores/Threads (per engine): max. 20
 Split Depth: DEFAULT
 Main Hash Size:  32 GB (Maximum)
 Minor Hash Size: 4 GB
 Engine Opening Book: OFF
 Endgame Tablebases: 5-men Syzygy, 5-men Nalimov, 5-men Gaviota (cp2) supported
 Tablebase Cache: 32 MB (irrelevant since whole TB resides in RAM)
 Ponder/Permanent Brain: OFF
 Contempt/Draw Score: DEFAULT

Technical specifications (Season 9)[edit]

 The TCEC Computer:
 Season 9 Stage 1-3 + Rapid server
 CPUs: 20 Cores -> 2 x Intel Xeon E5 2630 v4 @ 2.4 GHz
 Motherboard: Supermicro X10DRL-i
 RAM: 64 GB DDR4 ECC
 SSD: 256 GB
 Chassis: Supermicro 
 OS: Windows Server 2012 R2
 Season 9 Superfinal server
 CPUs: 44 Cores -> 2 x Intel Xeon E5 2699 v4 @ 2.8 GHz
 Motherboard: Supermicro X10DRL-i
 RAM: 128 GB DDR4 ECC
 SSD: Crucial CT250M500 240 GB
 Chassis: Supermicro 
 OS: Windows Server 2012 R2

Tournament results[edit]

Season Date Winner Runner-Up
TCEC Season 1 Dec 2010 – Feb 2011 Houdini 1.5a Rybka 4.0
TCEC Season 2 Feb 2011 – Apr 2011 Houdini 1.5a Rybka 4.1
TCEC Season 3 Apr 2011 – May 2011 N/A (season not completed)
TCEC Season 41 Jan 2013 – May 2013 Houdini 3 Stockfish 250413
TCEC Season 52 Aug 2013 – Dec 2013 Komodo 1142 Stockfish 191113
TCEC Season 6 Feb 2014 – May 2014 Stockfish 170514 Komodo 7x
TCEC Season 6 FRC3 June 2014 – July 2014 Stockfish 260614 Houdini 4
TCEC Season 74 Sep 2014 – Dec 2014 Komodo 1333 Stockfish 141214
TCEC Season 8 Aug 2015 – Nov 2015 Komodo 9.3x Stockfish 021115
TCEC Season 9 May 2016 – Dec 2016 Stockfish 8 Houdini 5
1 Originally named "nTCEC Season 1"
2 Originally named "nTCEC Season 2"
3 Special Chess960 quad-round-robin tournament consisting of the top 8 engines from Season 6 that had support for Chess960
4 Season 7 did not use endgame table bases. Stage two did not use opening books.

Notable games[edit]

Shredder vs Gull, TCEC S4
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
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
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
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.[11][12][13]

Pre-TCEC:

Season 1-3:

Season 4:

Season 5:

Season 6:

Season 9:

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. ^ a b Video annotation by Kingscrusher on YouTube
  6. ^ Monokroussos, Dennis. "Houdini 1.5a defeats Rybka 4: 23.5-16.5". Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Thoresen, Martin (August 15, 2013). "TCEC and Chessdom announces partnership". TCEC. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  8. ^ "TCEC computer chess championship New Season starts August 26th". Chessdom. Chessdom. August 15, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Stockfish 8 has trounced Houdini 5 in the TCEC final, leading by 10 points with 4 games to go!". Chess24. 
  10. ^ a b http://blog.chabris.com/2015/01/martin-thoresens-world-chess.html
  11. ^ a b The game on chessgames.com
  12. ^ a b "Shredder - Gull, Stage 2b: Stupendous Stalemate Swindle". Archived from the original on 25 October 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "A defensive brilliancy". Archived from the original on 25 October 2013. Retrieved 27 October 2013. 
  14. ^ Annotated by FM Dennis Monokroussos at TCEC
  15. ^ Annotated by FM Dennis Monokroussos at TCEC
  16. ^ Annotated by FM Dennis Monokroussos at TCEC
  17. ^ The game on chessgames.com
  18. ^ Annotated by FM Dennis Monokroussos at TCEC
  19. ^ Annotated by GM Ioannis Papadopoulos at TCEC
  20. ^ Chen, Franklin. "The computer plays the exchange sacrifice". Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  21. ^ Annotated by GM Ioannis Papadopoulos at TCEC
  22. ^ Annotated by GM Davorin Kuljasevic at TCEC
  23. ^ "SPECIAL EDITION Why Houdini 5 sacrificed his Queen? Superfinal Game 15 TCEC 2016". Youtube. Retrieved 6 December 2016. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]