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Engines of creation

THE TOP Chess Engines Competition (TCEC) continues to throw up some amazing games. In the 18th series, Stockfish gained revenge over Leela Chess Zero, regaining its crown with a 23-16 victory (with 61 draws) in the final.

Arguably the most impressive win, though, was Leela’s from the 65th game, where the engines debated a critical and very modern line of the Bogo-Indian Defence. With 9 h4!, White threatens a Greek Gift sacrifice on h7 and it was noticeable that in the return game Leela opted for 9…h6 as Black. 

 LCZero – Stockfish

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Nbd2 0-0 5.a3 Be7 6.e4 d5 7.e5 Nfd7 8.Bd3 c5 9.h4! g6 10.0-0!? Nc6 11.Nb3 Bxh4!? (A new move, as Stockfish typically displays no fear) 12.Bh6 Re8 13.Re1 cxd4 14.Qc2 dxc4 15.Bxc4 Nb6 16.Rad1 Bd7 17.Nc5!? (Spurning the pawn on d4 to maintain the initiative) 17…Rc8 18.b4 Nxc4 19.Qxc4 Be7 20.Ne4! Nxb4

It appears that White has blundered, but like its famous AI predecessor AlphaZero, Leela isn’t held back by traditional material values and now sacrifices its queen for two pieces and control of all the dark squares.

21.Qxb4!! Bxb4 22.axb4 (White has just two knights for the queen and three pawns, but Nf6+ Kh8; Rxd4 followed by Rh4 is a serious threat) 22…f5 (Desperate, but likely the only good defence, as if 22…Rc4 23.Nf6+ Kh8 24.Ng5 Re7 25.Rd3! when 25…Qb6 26.Rh3 Qxb4 27.Rf1 Rc3 28.Rh4! Bb5 29.Ngxh7! Bxf1 30.Nf8 leads to mate, 25…Qc7 26.Ngxh7 Rc3 27.Rxd4 Rc4 28.Rd3 Rc3 29.Rd6! leaves White with a mammoth, likely decisive bind, and 25…Be8 26.Ngxh7 Rc3 brings about today’s puzzle – see below)

23.Nf6+ Kh8 24.Rxd4 Rc7 25.Red1 Re7 26.b5! (Black has avoided losing material down the d-file, but is extremely tied down and Leela now makes it look like a forced win)

26…b6 27.Kh2 Rb7 28.Ng5 Qc8 29.R1d2 Rc7 30.Rd6 Rb7 31.R2d4 Rc7 32.Rd1 Rb7 33.R6d4 Rc7 34.f4 Rb7 35.Nxe6! Rxe6 36.Nxd7 Kg8 37.Nf6+ Kf7 38.Rd8! (A decisive invasion) 38…Qc5 39.Nxh7 Re8 40.e6+! Rxe6 41.Ng5+ Kf6 42.Rf8+ Qxf8 43.Bxf8 Rc7 44.Rd4 Rb7 45.Kg3 Rc7 46.Rd3 Rb7 47.Kh4!? (Continuing to spurn the rook on e6) 47…Rc7 48.Kg3 Rc4 49.Rd7 Re3+ 50.Kf2 Rxf4+ 51.Kxe3 Ra4 52.Be7+ Ke5 53.Kf3 1-0

Black has prevented Rh3, but can you see the beautiful, if deep, way White wins? 


Play through the full game below:

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Malcolm Pein

Malcolm Pein

1 Comment

  1. Mike Stubbs
    1st August 2020 at 5:55 am — Reply

    Some amazing games from these machines…but I reckon they are wrecking havoc with Correspondence chess!! Seems like every man & his dog are using one or more chess engines to play their games…so many draws, too…even lowly rated players can hold their own against higher rated players if they use the engines. One Australian tournament had a 2500+ player get all draws against more lowly rated opposition; hmm, something wrong here surely?! Not sure if the future looks good for CC!.

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