21 May 2018

Installing Leela

After Getting to Know Leela, what happens next? Installing it might be a good start. Following the instructions from that previous post...

For more info, go to lczero.org and refer to the links in the left navigation bar.

...I clicked through 'Getting Started' and eventually got to a page of the same name: Getting Started.

To help the LCZero project get stronger by running self-play training games on your own computer, see...

First question: On which machine should I install the Leela software? I decided to install it on my WIN7 PC. That's where I do most of my writing. Since the objective of the exercise is to write a few posts about Leela, it would be easier to copy/paste material directly into a post, like this one. Unfortunately, I ran into a technical problem and after fiddling a bit decided that WIN7 was the problem. I switched to a WIN10 PC.

I followed the instructions again (the second time went faster) and this time everything worked smoothly. After downloading and unzipping the file, I launched the client, set up a new account, and the software started automatically. Here's a screen capture showing the end of the first game and the start of the second.

'SlowMover', that's me.

20 May 2018

The Chess Waste Land

There are so many angles to today's featured photo that I hardly know where to start.


A game of chess © Flickr user Luke McKernan under Creative Commons.

The description said,

Barbara Kruger chess set, with paintings by Paula Rego, Peter Blake and Edward Hopper. The Waste Land exhibition, Turner Contemporary, Margate.

Margate: Ernst Gruenfeld won at Margate 1923 ahead of Alekhine (and others), although the tournament is not mentioned on BritBase: 1920-29 (saund.co.uk). For the next decade, BritBase: 1930-39, the site gives as Margate winners: 1935 Reshevsky, 1936 Capablanca, 1937 Fine/Keres, 1938 Alekhine, 1939 Keres. I presume the annual series ended because of WWII (1939-1945).

Waste Land exhibition: Journeys with ‘The Waste Land’ (turnercontemporary.org):-

In 1921, T.S. Eliot spent a few weeks in Margate at a crucial moment in his career. He arrived in a fragile state, physically and mentally, and worked on The Waste Land sitting in the Nayland Rock shelter on Margate Sands. The poem was published the following year, and proved to be a pivotal and influential modernist work, reflecting on the fractured world in the aftermath of the First World War as well as Eliot’s own personal crisis.

For more about the poem, see Wikipedia's The Waste Land; its second part is titled 'A Game of Chess'. T.S. Eliot received a passing reference in a previous Flickr Friday post on this blog: Multi-dimensional Chess Imagery (November 2017; 'The large frame under the horseshoe is an an excerpt from T.S.Eliot's poem "East Coker" (1940), that starts "You say I am repeating / Something I have said before".')

Barbara Kruger chess set: The Margate photo is taken at an angle that captures both the chess set and an artwork featuring chess behind the set. It's not immediately obvious, because the chess set is shown from the wrong side, but the board is a photo of a boy screaming. A better view of the boy's head is at The Art Of Chess 2006 (tatintsian.com; 1/10, all sets). The chess artwork by Peter Blake shows Marcel Duchamp. Another work featuring Blake recreates the famous photo of Duchamp and model Eve Babitz.

Flickr: This current post is the follow-up to The Last Flickr Friday, where I said, 'I'll be cutting the series back to one post a month and moving it to Sunday.' It might also be the last Flickr photo: SmugMug acquires Flickr (techcrunch.com; April 2018); the article overviews the history of Flickr, 'founded in 2004 and sold to Yahoo a year later'. I hope the situation after the acquisition will continue to provide inspiration for future posts featuring chess photos.

18 May 2018

A Transformational Technology

On the 12th anniversary of this blog, Silk Anniversary! (1 May 2018), I decided to start giving less time to blogging:-

While I'm not planning to stop anytime soon, I will start to slow down; maybe go from one post per day (across my four blogs) to 5-6 posts per week.

With that in mind, I cut back my rotating Friday posts to once a month each and moved them to another day:-

So here we are, another Friday and I have nothing special to do. Before signing off completely, I'm going to spend a few Fridays looking at the impact of artificial intelligence and neural networks on the world of chess. To get started, I gathered all previous posts on the subject(s) into a new category: Showing posts with label AI/NN. It's a technology that is not only transforming chess, it's transforming nearly everything that we do.

17 May 2018

The Value of a Tempo

What's the value of the first move in chess? Most people would say it's a tempo, but there's a problem here.

Let's say that White passes on the first move. I know the rules of chess don't allow a player to say 'Pass!', so let's call it a thought experiment. If White passes, then Black has exactly the same advantage of the first move that White just had. Now here's the problem: If White gives up a tempo thereby giving Black an extra tempo, then the difference between the positions is two tempi. But White only passed on one move, so how can this be? Let's use a simple algebraic formula to illustrate this...

X - 1 = -X

... where 'X' is the value of the first move for White, '-1' is the value of the lost move, and '-X' is the value of the new situation for Black. Solving for 'X' gives X = 1/2. This means that the value of the first move is not a tempo; it's a half-tempo. QED?

A few years back I wrote a couple of posts -- One Imbalance Leads to Another (February 2013) and A Pawn Equals 200 Rating Points (ditto) -- based on GM Larry Kaufman's work. One of the observations from his work was...

  • 0.4 - Value of a tempo
  • 0.2 - Value of first move

...where a Pawn is worth 1.0. Kaufman's observation confirms the X = 1/2 calculation. Why bring this up again? While reading the September 2017 issue of Chess Life, I noticed that GM Lev Alburt gave the following diagram in his monthly column, 'Back to Basics', after the moves 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3.

Most people would accept that statement as obvious and continue with the column. We've all seen similar statements many times and accepted them without question, but it might not be so straightforward. According to Kaufman's work, White's advantage might be *only* a half-tempo.

I plugged the position after 1.e4 c5 into an engine, looked at the analysis, entered a null move for White, and looked again at the analysis. The difference between the two analyses (before and after the null move) was not a half-tempo, it was closer to a full tempo. Why is the value of a move a half-tempo at the start of a game and a full tempo later? I think it's the difference between 'having the move' and 'making a move'. Once you make a move the advantage of having the move passes to your opponent.

I'm a big fan of chess960. I've always assumed that different start positions have different values. According to the analysis above (X - 1 = -X), every position starts with the same fundamentals -- a tempo is a tempo no matter what the start position might be.

So why do some chess960 start positions seem to offer a better opportunity for White to gain an advantage? Maybe it's for the same reason that some moves in the traditional start position (as in the diagram above) offer a better opportunity than other moves. After all, 1.d4 and 1.e4 are better moves than 1.a3 and 1.h3. A move that accomplishes two objectives is better than a move that accomplishes a single objective; similarly, a move that does nothing is better than a move that makes the position worse. Just don't say, 'Pass!'.

15 May 2018

Caruana at the World Cup

In my previous post on the challenger for the current World Championship cycle, Caruana at Corus, I ended with the observation:-

Between the 2009 and 2010 Corus tournaments, there was another significant event: the 2009 World Cup.

According to my World Championship Index of players [A-G], GM Caruana has played in five World Cups. Following is a summary of his results in the seven-round knockout events.

2009 World Cup; Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, XI-XII, 2009.
Rd.1 Caruana,F 1.5 - Bruzon Batista,L 0.5
Rd.2 Caruana,F 4.0 - Dominguez Perez,L 2.0
Rd.3 Caruana,F 3.5 - Alekseev,Evgeny 2.5
Rd.4 Gashimov,V 3.5 - Caruana,F 1.5

2011 World Cup; Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, VIII-IX, 2011.
Rd.1 Caruana,F 1.5 - Pridorozhni,A 0.5
Rd.2 Caruana,F 1.5 - Drozdovskij,Y 0.5
Rd.3 Svidler,P 3.0 - Caruana,F 1.0

2013 World Cup; Tromso (Norway), VIII-IX, 2013.
Rd.1 Caruana,F 1.5 - G.,Akash 0.5
Rd.2 Caruana,F 1.5 - Yu Yangyi 0.5
Rd.3 Caruana,F 3.0 - Malakhov,V 1.0
Rd.4 Caruana,F 2.0 - Granda Zuniga,J 0.0
Rd.5 Vachier Lagrave,M 2.5 - Caruana,F 1.5

2015 World Cup; Baku (Azerbaijan), IX-X, 2015.
Rd.1 Caruana,F 2.0 - Zaibi,A 0.0
Rd.2 Caruana,F 1.5 - Mamedov,Rau 0.5
Rd.3 Caruana,F 1.5 - Kovalyov,A 0.5
Rd.4 Mamedyarov,S 1.5 - Caruana,F 0.5

2017 World Cup; Tbilisi (Georgia), IX, 2017.
Rd.1 Caruana,F 2.0 - Solomon,K 0.0
Rd.2 Caruana,F 4.0 - Lenic,L 2.0
Rd.3 Najer,E 2.5 - Caruana,F 1.5

How did he qualify for the World Cup events? Another of my pages, World Chess Championship Zonals, includes links to 'Qualifying Paths' for each cycle.

>>> Zonal Qualifiers 2008-2009 (C24)

h) 6 nominees of the FIDE President
[...]
122. Caruana, Fabiano (ITA)

>>> Zonal Qualifiers 2010-2011 (C25)

d) From FIDE Rating List, 20 players, average 7/2010 & 1/2011:
[...]
25. F. Caruana (ITA) 2709,00 [19th on the list]

>>> Zonal Qualifiers 2012-2013 (C26)

d) From FIDE Rating List, average 3/2012 up to 1/2013:
[...]
12. F. Caruana (ITA) 2775,44 [5th on the list]

>>> Zonal Qualifiers 2014-2015 (C27)

d) From FIDE Rating List, average 2/2014 up to 1/2015:
[...]
09. F. Caruana (USA) 2803.66 [2nd on the list]

>>> Zonal Qualifiers 2016-2017 (C28)

c) From FIDE Rating List, 18 players, average 2/2016 up to 1/2017:
08. F. Caruana (USA) 2807.91 [1st on the list]

As the official challenger in the forthcoming 2018 Carlsen - Caruana title match, GM Caruana is guaranteed a place in the following cycle. Whatever the outcome of that match, I expect he will be a key participant in World Championship cycles for many years to come.

14 May 2018

Getting to Know Leela

After last week's introduction to Leela Chess Zero and the TCEC, where to go next? How about an explanatory video? In last year's introduction to AlphaZero, A New Style of Chess (December 2017), I featured Agadmator's Chess Channel on Youtube, so let's call on Agadmator again.


Artificial Intelligence Leela Zero to Become as Strong as Alpha Zero? | Only if We Help! (14:28) • 'Published on Apr 5, 2018'

The video's description explains,

Great progress has been made so far -- Leela has gone from random play to around 1800 now on average hardware in four weeks. The catch is that project relies on people running Leela on their computers so there are more matches for Leela to learn from.

For more info, go to lczero.org and refer to the links in the left navigation bar.

13 May 2018

Fabiano Streams on Twitch

A couple of months ago on Video Friday we had Magnus Streams on Youtube (March 2018). Now we have World Champion Carlsen's next challenger hosting a stream; see 2018 Carlsen - Caruana; London for more about next November's title match, including the official site, etc.


Fabiano Caruana - Titled Tuesday May 2018 (1:40:07) • 'Published on May 3, 2018'

Chess.com's own video report on Youtube is at Titled Tuesday Blitz Chess Tournament: May 2018 With Caruana and Giri:-

World championship challenger Fabiano Caruana decides to put his skills on display by playing AND streaming the May edition of the Titled Tuesday blitz chess tournament. Joining him is Anish Giri who's hungry to defeat him "on air."

For Chess.com's written report on the event, see Petrosian Wins Titled Tuesday Ahead Of Giri, Caruana. In the future I'll be featuring videos once a month on this blog. The previous, fortnightly schedule ended a few days ago with The Last Video Friday.