The final match of the Top Engine Chess Championship is here. Stockfish is taking on Leela for the highest title in computer chess, in a 100 games match, starting today at 17:00 UTC on the official site of TCEC and TCEC Twitch TV. Stockfish won convincingly the Premier Division and Leela snatched the second position to be the challenger in the encounter.
Komodo wins infrafinal by 19 games, Ethereal wins a game pair
There was no shock upset in the TCEC Season 23 infrafinal as Komodo Dragon cruised to a routine win. Played with the Season 18 opening book, the infrafinal started with a draw before Komodo Dragon won four of the next five openings to take a big lead that it never gave up. With the infrafinal unfolding as expected, the question quickly turned into whether Ethereal would do better than rofChade did last season. In season 22, Lc0 had won with +21 -1 =78 vs. rofChade. Would Komodo Dragon beat that margin of victory, and would Ethereal win a game pair? Ethereal played White first in every game pair, and since most openings heavily favored White, it would be the one to strike the first blow, making for tense games should Ethereal win.
Ethereal notched its first win in game 15, although it failed to hold the reverse. When Ethereal scored another win in game 17, it had already scored more wins than rofChade did. However 1-0, 1-0 game pairs are still not won game pairs, and Komodo Dragon has historically been better than Leela at winning against lower-ranked engines. By the halfway mark, Komodo Dragon had won 11 game pairs, lost none, and was on its way to a larger margin of victory than Leela had managed. All that changed in two critical games 54-55. Out of a Philidor in which Black fianchettos on the kingside, Komodo castled kingside, against which Ethereal mounted a kingside advance. The resulting attack led to heavy complications which Ethereal navigated better to score a win. In the reverse, Ethereal chose a different plan, castling queenside and avoiding the kingside attack of the previous game. This time Komodo Dragon navigated to a comfortable pawn-up endgame, but it was unclear how White could make progress. As the moves shuffled away, Ethereal drew the game to score a memorable game pair win.
This won game pair started a mini-revival for Ethereal as it drew seven consecutive game pairs, but eventually Komodo Dragon turned on the heat to win 8 of the last 15 openings. It was too late for Komodo Dragon however, and Ethereal escaped with a -19 score, one better than rofChade’s -20.
The Superfinal is next, with Stockfish taking on Leela. Stockfish is the heavy favorite – so much so that the main question for most viewers is not who will win, but by how much. Most viewers are predicting Stockfish will win by the Season 21 score of +11 to +15, but also that Leela will win between 1-5 openings. Although this might sound one-sided, when we consider that Stockfish rolled over Komodo Dragon by +19 while losing no game pairs last season, if this result pans out, it will still be a more competitive match. For the two bookmakers Jeroen Noomen and GM Matthew Sadler, there will always be a competition. Whose openings will yield more decisive game pairs? Jeroen won the S22 “bookmaker’s sufi” by 11-8, and Matthew will undoubtedly be looking to even the score. Testing for the superfinal is currently under way, and the superfinal is projected to start in a day’s time. Catch all games live at https://tcec-chess.com
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