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][3] The tournament has attracted nearly all the top engines compared to the World Computer Chess Championship.

After a short break in 2012,[4] TCEC was restarted in early 2013 (as nTCEC)[5] 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.[6][7]

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 tournaments, a Leagues Season, a Cup, a Swiss tournament, and a Fischer Random Chess tournament.

Prior to season 21, there was originally one tournament in each season. This tournament consisted of several qualifying stages and one "superfinal", and the winner of the superfinal is called the "TCEC Grand Champion" until the next season. Prior to season 11, the tournament used a cup format, while starting in Season 11, the tournament used a division system. Starting in season 13, there was also a cup tournament consisting of the top 32 engines in the main tournament, resulting in a 5-round single elimination tournament.[8]

Engine settings/characteristics[edit]

Pondering is set to off. All engines run on mostly the same hardware[9] 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. In previous seasons, if an engine crashes 3 times in one event, it is disqualified to avoid distorting the results for the other engines; however starting in TCEC Season 20, an engine is allowed to crash as many times as possible without being disqualified from the current event; however, the engine will still be disqualified from future events unless the crash is fixed.[10] TCEC generates an 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 under active development from various rating lists which can run on their Linux platform. Originally, TCEC used Windows instead of Linux. In addition, either XBoard or UCI protocol are required to participate.

Usually chess engines that support multiprocessor mode are preferred (8-cores or higher), and engines in active development are given preference. Since TCEC 12, engines like LCZero which use GPUs for neural processing were supported.

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".[11] In TCEC 13, DeusX was banned due to being a clone of Leela, and in TCEC 20, Houdini, Fire, Rybka (engine in Fritz up to TCEC 16), and Critter were banned due to allegations of plagiarism.

Structure by tournament[edit]

Pre-TCEC[edit]

Structure
3 matches followed by 2 tournaments then alternating between match and tournament until there were 6 tournaments and 5 matches

TCEC Seasons[edit]

Multi-stage tournament[edit]

Tournament Stage Details
Season 1 3 division (1 through 3) followed by elite match
Season 2 Same as Season 1 but with 6 divisions (A through F)
Season 3 2 stages (1 followed by 2a). Season not completed.
Season 4 Same as Season 3 but with 4 more tournaments (Stages 2b, 3 and 4 followed by a superfinal, in that order)
Season 5 4 stages (1 through 4) followed by a superfinal
Season 6 Same as Season 5 but stage 1 was stage 1a through c and a Chess960 tournament after the superfinal
Season 7 Same as Season 6 but no stage 1c nor tournament after the superfinal
Season 8 Same as Season 7 but no stage 4
Season 9 Same as Season 8 but between the stage tournaments and superfinal was a rapid tournament
Season 10 2 stages (1 followed by 2) then superfinal then 2 other tournaments (rapid followed by blitz)

League system[edit]

Tournament League Details
Seasons 11–14 Division 4 Variable number of engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division 3.
Division 3 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division 2 and 2 engines get relegated to Division 4.
Division 2 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division 1 and 2 engines get relegated to Division 3.
Division 1 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Premier Division and 2 engines get relegated to Division 2.
Premier Division 8 engines. 2 engines get relegated to Division 1.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Premier Division.
Season 15 Division 4a Variable number of engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division 4 playoffs.
Division 4b Variable number of engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division 4 playoffs.
Division 4 playoffs 4 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division 3, and the other two engines get relegated back to Division 4a or 4b.
Division 3 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division 2 and 2 engines get relegated to Division 4a or 4b.
Division 2 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division 1 and 2 engines get relegated to Division 3.
Division 1 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Premier Division and 2 engines get relegated to Division 2.
Premier Division 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Superfinal and two engines get relegated to Division 1.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Division Premier.
Season 16 Qualification League Maximum of 16 engines. 6 engines get promoted to League 2.
League 2 16 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 1 and 6 engines get relegated to Qualification League.
League 1 16 engines. 4 engines get promoted to Playoffs and 4 engines get relegated to League 2.
League 1 Playoffs 4 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Premier Division and 4 engines get relegated to League 1.
Premier Division 8 engines. 2 engines get relegated to League 1.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Premier Division.
Season 17 CPU Qualification League Maximum of 16 engines. 6 engines get promoted to League 2.
CPU League 2 16 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 1 and 6 engines get relegated to Qualification League.
CPU League 1 16 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 1 Playoffs and 4 engines get relegated to League 2.
GPU League 1 Maximum 16 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 1 Playoffs.
League 1 Playoffs 6 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Premier Division and 4 engines get relegated to CPU or GPU League 1.
Premier Division 10 engines. 4 engines get relegated to CPU or GPU League 1.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Premier Division.
Season 18 Qualification League Maximum of 10 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 3.
League 3 10 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 2 and 2 engines get relegated to League 4.
League 2 10 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 1 and 2 engines get relegated to League 3.
League 1 10 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division Premier and 2 engines get relegated to League 2.
Premier Division 8 engines. 2 engines get relegated to League 1.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Division Premier.
Season 19 Qualification League Variable number of engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 3.
League 3 10 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 2 and 2 engines get relegated to League 4.
League 2 10 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 1 and 2 engines get relegated to League 3.
League 1 10 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division Premier and 2 engines get relegated to League 2.
Premier Division 8 engines. 2 engines get relegated to League 1.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Division Premier.
Season 20 Qualification League Variable number of engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 4.
League 4 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 3 and 2 engines get relegated to Qualification League.
League 3 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 2 and 2 engines get relegated to League 4.
League 2 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 1 and 2 engines get relegated to League 3.
League 1 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division Premier and 2 engines get relegated to League 2.
Premier Division 8 engines. 2 engines get relegated to League 1.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Division Premier.

TCEC Leagues Seasons[edit]

Starting in season 21, each season has been expanded to include the Cup, a Fischer Random Chess tournament, and a Swiss tournament, and thus the original tournament has been renamed to the Leagues Season.[12]

Tournament Event Details
TCEC Leagues Season 21 Qualification League Maximum of 24 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 4.
League 4 12 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 3 and 4 engines get relegated to Qualification League.
League 3 12 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 2 and 4 engines get relegated to League 4.
League 2 12 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 1 and 4 engines get relegated to League 3.
League 1 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division Premier and 2 engines get relegated to League 2.
Division Premier 8 engines. 2 engines get relegated to League 1.
Infrafinal Played by 3rd and 4th in Division Premier.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Division Premier.
TCEC Leagues Season 22 Qualification League Maximum of 24 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 4.
League 4 12 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 3 and 4 engines get relegated to Qualification League.
League 3 12 engines. 4 engines get promoted to League 2 and 2 engines get relegated to League 4.
League 2 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to League 1 and 2 engines get relegated to League 3.
League 1 8 engines. 2 engines get promoted to Division Premier and 2 engines get relegated to League 2.
Division Premier 8 engines. 2 engines get relegated to League 1.
Infrafinal Played by 3rd and 4th in Division Premier.
Superfinal Played by 1st and 2nd in Division Premier.

TCEC Cups[edit]

Tournament Structure
TCEC Cups 1–4 Knockout tournament, with 8-game Rapid matches and tiebreaks if necessary.
TCEC Cups 5–9 Knockout tournament, with 4-game Rapid matches and tiebreaks if necessary.

TCEC Swiss[edit]

Tournament Structure
TCEC Swiss 1 Swiss-system tournament with 38 competing engines, playing 11 rounds of game pairs, for a total of 418 games.
TCEC Swiss 2 Swiss-system tournament with 44 competing engines, playing 11 rounds of game pairs, for a total of 484 games.

TCEC FRC[edit]

Tournament Event Details
TCEC FRC 1 GPU League
CPU League 2
CPU League 2 playoffs
CPU League 1
Superfinal
TCEC FRC 2–3 League A 4 engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Semileague 1 and 2.
League B 4 engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Semileague 1 and 2.
League C 4 engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Semileague 1 and 2.
League D 4 engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Semileague 1 and 2.
Semileague 1 4 engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Final League.
Semileague 2 4 engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Final League.
Final League 4 engines. Top 2 engines play in Finals.
Finals Played by 1st and 2nd in Final League.
TCEC FRC 4 League A Variable number of engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Semileague 1 and 2.
League B Variable number of engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Semileague 1 and 2.
League C Variable number of engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Semileague 1 and 2.
League D Variable number of engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Semileague 1 and 2.
Semileague 1 4 engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Final League.
Semileague 2 4 engines. Top 2 engines get promoted to Final League.
Final League 4 engines. Top 2 engines play in Finals.
Finals Played by 1st and 2nd in Final League.

Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus[edit]

The structure of the TCEC VSOB varies from event to event. Most of them have been in a round-robin format.

However, the latest VSOB event, VSOB 21, has a different format, where each opening gets tested to see how unbalanced the position is, and then assigned to a pair of engines depending on the strength differential between the pair of engines: equal positions were assigned to a pair of engines where one engine was vastly stronger than the other, while heavily unequal positions were assigned to a pair of engines about roughly equal strength.

Other TCEC tournaments[edit]

Tournament Structure
TCEC Season 6 FRC Quad-round-robin tournament consisting of the top 8 engines that had support for Fischer Random Chess.
TCEC Season 9 Rapid
TCEC Season 10 Rapid
TCEC Season 10 Blitz

Tournament results[edit]

TCEC Seasons[edit]

Multi-stage tournament[edit]

The tables display the results of each TCEC Season that was a multi-stage tournament.

Season Date TCEC Grand Champion ver Runner-Up ver Elite match/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

League system[edit]

The tables display the results of each TCEC Season that was a league system.

Season Date TCEC Grand Champion ver Runner-Up ver Elite match/Superfinal score
TCEC Season 11 Jan – Apr 2018 Stockfish 260318 Houdini 6.03 + 20 = 78 - 2
TCEC Season 12 Apr – Jul 2018 Stockfish 180614 Komodo 12.1.1 + 29 = 62 - 9
TCEC Season 13 Aug – Nov 2018 Stockfish 18102108 Komodo 2155.00 + 16 = 78 - 6
TCEC Season 14 Nov 2018 – Feb 2019 Stockfish 190203 LCZero v0.20.2-32930 + 10 = 81 - 9
TCEC Season 15 Mar – May 2019 LCZero v0.21.1-nT40.T8.610 Stockfish 19050918 + 14 = 79 - 7
TCEC Season 16 Jul – Oct 2019 Stockfish 19092522 AllieStein v0.5-dev_7b41f8c-n11 + 14 = 81 - 5
TCEC Season 17 Jan – Apr 2020 LCZero v0.24-sv-t60-3010 Stockfish 20200407DC + 17 = 71 - 12
TCEC Season 18 May – Jul 2020 Stockfish 202006170741 LCZero v0.25.1-svjio-t60-3972-mlh + 23 = 61 - 16
TCEC Season 19 Aug – Oct 2020 Stockfish 202009282242_nn-baeb9ef2d183 LCZero v0.26.3-rc1_T60.SV.JH.92-190 + 18 = 73 - 9
TCEC Season 20 Dec 2020 – Feb 2021 Stockfish 20210113 LCZero 0.27.0d-Tilps-dje-magic_JH.94-100 + 14 = 78 - 8
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.

TCEC Leagues Seasons[edit]

After season 20, each season was expanded to include the Swiss, the Cup, and the FRC tournament, and so the original event is now called the Leagues Season.[13]

Tournament Date Winner version Runner-Up version Superfinal score
TCEC Leagues Season 21 May 2021 – Aug 2021 Stockfish 14_202107131735 LCZero 0.28-dev+_69626 + 19 = 74 - 7
TCEC Leagues Season 22 Jan 2022 – Apr 2022 Stockfish dev15_20220401 KomodoDragon 2894.00 + 28 = 63 - 9

TCEC Cups[edit]

Tournament Date Winner version Runner-Up version Finals score
TCEC Cup 1 Oct 2018 Stockfish 270918 Houdini 6.03 + 1 = 7 - 0
TCEC Cup 2 Jan 2019 LCZero v0.20.1-32742 Houdini 6.03 + 1 = 7 - 0
TCEC Cup 3 May 2019 LCZero v0.21.1-nT40.T6.532 Stockfish 19042711 + 2 = 7 - 1
TCEC Cup 4 Oct 2019 Stockfish 19100908 LCZero v0.22.0-nT2 + 1 = 7 - 0
TCEC Cup 5 Apr 2020 Stockfish 202004181536 LCZero v0.24-sv-t60-3010 + 1 = 3 - 0
TCEC Cup 6 Jul 2020 AllieStein v0.7_dev2-net_15.0 LCZero v0.26.0_sv-t60-4229-mlh_opt2 + 1 = 3 - 0
TCEC Cup 7 Nov 2020 Stockfish 2020102823_nn-2eb2e0707c2b LCZero v0.26.3_T60.SV.JH.92-270 + 1 = 3 - 0
TCEC Cup 8 Feb 2021 Stockfish 202102202249 LCZero 0.27.0-pr1509_JH.94-100 + 1 = 7 - 0
TCEC Cup 9 Oct 2021 Stockfish dev15_20211015 LCZero 0.28-dev+_609958 + 1 = 3 - 0
TCEC Cup 10 May 2022 Stockfish dev16_2022051413 KomodoDragon 3 + 2 = 9 - 1

TCEC Swiss[edit]

Tournament Date Winner version Runner-Up version
TCEC Swiss 1 Apr 2021 KomodoDragon 2679.08 Stockfish 20210310
TCEC Swiss 2 Nov – Dec 2021 KomodoDragon 2.5.1 Stockfish 14.1_20211101

TCEC FRC[edit]

Tournament Date Winner version Runner-Up version Final/Superfinal score
TCEC FRC 1 Oct – Nov 2019 Stockfish 191107 AllieStein v0.5_c328142-n11.1 + 10 = 10 - 0
TCEC FRC 2 Nov 2020 Stockfish 202011101829_nn-c3ca321c51c9 LCZero v0.26.3_T60.SV.JH.92-330 + 8 = 42 - 0
TCEC FRC 3 Mar 2021 KomodoDragon 2671.00 Stockfish 20210226 + 2 = 47 - 1
TCEC FRC 4 Dec 2021-Jan 2022 Stockfish dev15_2021121915 LCZero 0.29-dev+_610826 + 13 = 28 - 9

Viewer Submitted Opening Bonuses[edit]

TCEC allows viewers to submit chess openings to TCEC, upon which the openings will be played by various engines in a series of exhibition games.

Event Date
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 1 Nov 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 2 Nov 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 3 Nov 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 4 Nov 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 5 Nov 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 6 Nov 2019 - Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 7 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 8 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 9 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 10 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 11 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 12 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 13 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 14 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 15 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 16 Dec 2019
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 17 Dec 2019 - Jan 2020
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 18 Oct 2020
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 19 Nov 2020
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 20 Apr 2021
TCEC Viewer Submitted Opening Bonus 21 Aug - Oct 2021 [14]

Other TCEC tournaments[edit]

Tournament Date Winner version Runner-Up version
TCEC Season 6 FRC Jun – Jul 2014 Stockfish 260614 Houdini 4
TCEC Season 9 Rapid1 Sep 2016 Houdini 200716 Komodo 1692.19
TCEC Season 10 Rapid Dec 2017 Stockfish 051117 Houdini 6.03
TCEC Season 10 Blitz Dec 2017 Komodo 1959.00 Stockfish 051117
1 Double round robin tournament.

Statistics[edit]

All-time table for champions[edit]

This table includes Main/Leagues, Cup, FRC and Swiss results.[15]

Rank Engine Games W D L W (%) D (%) L (%) Pts Avg Pts Participations Trophies
1 Stockfish 3344 883 2238 223 26.41 66.93 6.67 2002.0 0.599 36 20
2 Komodo 2292 580 1497 215 25.31 65.31 9.38 1328.5 0.580 36 6
3 Houdini 1517 370 979 168 24.39 64.54 11.07 859.5 0.567 22 4
4 LCZero 1884 402 1290 192 21.34 68.47 10.19 1047.0 0.556 24 4

See also[edit]

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. ^ Roeder, Oliver (January 25, 2022). "We Taught Computers To Play Chess — And Then They Left Us Behind". Fivethirtyeight. Retrieved February 15, 2022.
  4. ^ Thoresen, Martin (May 28, 2011). "TCEC announcement: End of project". Talkchess. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Thoresen, Martin (August 15, 2013). "TCEC and Chessdom announces partnership". TCEC. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  7. ^ "TCEC computer chess championship New Season starts August 26th". Chessdom. Chessdom. August 15, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  8. ^ "Announcing TCEC Cup 2018 | Chessdom".
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "TCEC Leagues Season Rules, 15.Crashes".
  11. ^ Chabris, Christopher. "Martin Thoresen's World Chess Championship".
  12. ^ "TCEC Leagues Season 21".
  13. ^ "TCEC wiki".
  14. ^ "S21 - Viewer Submitted Openings Bonus 21".
  15. ^ "TCEC - Live Chess Broadcast". www.tcec-chess.com.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]