Musings ♫ on Chess>, ♫ </Art>, Enlightenment, zen, P{rophylaxis,sychology}
A FIDE Trainer's take on Chess Research, Training, Pedagogy & Preparation
hinc altis stant propugnacula muris,
quae dorso immanes gestant in bella Elephanti.

Mr. IGM Eugenio Torre is an international chess grandmaster from the Philippines, one of the best players of the world during 1980s and 1990s, played the first board of his country in the Olympiads for many times, captain of the Philippine team in their best-ever seventh place finish in the 23rd Chess Olympiad in Greece, 1988 and beaten the legendary world champion Mr. IGM Anatoly Karpov on two encounters, one in Manila 1976 and one in London 1984. EugenioTorre's aforementioned wins against AnatolyKarpov are given below for reference. They are also available in the respective PGN. Click on the game titles below to browse to the relevant chapters in the lichess study, lichess/alpltl/Classics if you can not view the iframes below.

Note, the lichess study has chat open for everyone so feel free to share your comments and variations. Cloning is also open for everyone so you can base your analysis on this one. Please drop a comment with your study link if you clone so people reading the main study will be aware of your version as well.

Game 1. Karpov - Torre, Manila 1976


Game 2. Torre - Karpov, London 1984


The main game of today is actually an obscure gem from the chess history, a training game between EugenioTorre and the legendary Mr. IGM Bobby Fischer, the eleventh world chess champion, short before BobbyFischer's 1992 Belgrade rematch against Mr. IGM Boris Spassky the tenth world chess champion, who lost the title to none other than BobbyFischer after their World Championship Match in Reykjavik 1972.

Today during the 1st round of the 43rd Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia EugenioTorre, who is the present in the event as the captain of Phillipine team, spoke about this training game during an interview with Mr. IGM Ivan Sokolov and Mrs. {WIG,I}M Sopiko Guramishvili. He explained how he was proud to hold BobbyFischer to a draw, how he was sad not to have any record of the game as the only copy was in BobbyFischer's possession until he lost all of his belongings, with EugenioTorre having refused to reconstruct the game out of respect for BobbyFischer's request for the game to remain private. It was a pleasant surprise for EugenioTorre when the game reappeared in chess databases after many years.

The game is given below for reference and it is also available in the respective PGN. Click on the game title below to browse to the relevant chapters in the lichess study, lichess/alpltl/Classics if you can not view them here.

Game 3. Torre - Fischer, Sveti Stefan 1992


You may listen to EugenioTorre telling the story of the game below in the youtube video where he also shares his insights on Fischer's creative process during the invention of Fischer Random Chess, also known as Chess960. He, then proceeds to sing a song whose lyrics he adapted in tribute to BobbyFischer which makes the video of historical importance.



Skip forward to 57:10 if you want to listen to the song at once. The original song is called Vincent by Don Mclean, which is a tribute to Vincent Van Gogh, Dutch Post-Impressionist painter, a genius in his own right. You may listen to the original song following this Youtube link.

EugioneTorre's adaptation of the lyrics is reproduced below for all lovers of FischerRandom, a chess variant which aims to revolutonize our beautiful game by emphasizing the depth of chess through a controlled randomization of the starting position without introducing any change in rules apart from a small adaptation of castling. A simple and profound innovation by a true genius intending to eliminate the domination of preparation on modern chess to cultivate aesthetics through the beauty imagination and logic.

Starry, starry night.
Wondering how to find the way.
Wondering where the king should stay.
With eyes that know the mystic that was lost.
 
Shuffling on the board.
Memorizing at the board.
Searching for the right accord.
Do invigorate the game, we trust you most!
 
Now I understand,
What you try to say to me,
How you suffer for your sanity,
How you try to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.
 
Starry, starry night.
King between a pair of rooks.
Castling at the added looks.
Instilled in Bobby's mind, it's for the best!
Checking on the rest:
Bishops on dark and light squares,
Knights and queen on remaining squares,
And every piece is on its random post.
 
Now I understand,
What you try to say to me,
How you suffer for your sanity,
How you try to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.
 
For they could not love you,
But still your love was true.
Then at the age of 64, on that starry starry night,
You passed away before your dreams come true.
But I could have told you, Bobby
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.
 
Starry night, starry night.
Chess demands a love for the game.
You have shown it the first time you came,
and played the gems the world cannot forget.
The struggles that you've met,
All alone you bravely faced
Found noone to be embraced
For nothing is so healing as the human touch.
 
Now I understand,
What you try to say to me,
How you suffer for your sanity,
How you try to set them free.
They would not listen, they are not listening still.
Perhaps they never will.
 
Lyrics by Eugenio Torre adapted for the song Vincent in tribute to Bobby Fischer and Fischer Random Chess

This is the first of a series of posts that I will tag under EndgameBlues.

The foundation of strong chess technique is avoiding counterplay. Winning a chess game, or converting an overwhelming advantage into a full point in chessspeak, requires the player to have firm skills to put an end to complications to avoid any form of unforeseen, unexpected activity.

The theme of today's game is converting knight endgames with material advantage, specifically with the material advantage of a single pawn. A single pawn is the smallest form of material advantage and therefore it is the most difficult to convert into a full point. The difficulty decreases as the game simplifies, as stronger pieces move out of the board, adding to the relative strength of the pawn and opening up files to increase the likelihood of pawn promotion into a stronger piece.

For an instructive, classical treatment of the problem of conversion in knight endgames with minimal material advantage, look at the position after Black's 29th move, just after queens are traded in the endgame of Lasker - Marshall, World Chess Championship Match 1907, Round 2.

First, though, a short introduction of the players which is by all means unnecessary.

Mr. Emanuel Lasker is the second world chess champion and the current holder of the record of the longest holder of the world chess champion title. One of his most characteristic skills was his precision in endgames, which, in my opinion has served a great benefit for him over his common opponents in his day. He understood and applied endgame principles much stronger than his contemporaries.

One of his common opponents Frank James Marshall, renowed with his invaluable contribution to the chess opening theory, the Marshall Gambit of the Ruy Lopez which remains a topical line in the chess stratosphere today. He was a romantic attacker, a creative, original player. In chessspeak, he had a tendency of recreationally preferring to overvalue dynamic advantages over static features of chess middlegames without any particular change of stylistic variation on whether the position is a queenless and/or late-middlegame or even endgame.

One side faces the question of converting the material advantage into a win, the other side is obliged to make full use of the dynamism in the position to complicate the implementation of the conversion to achieve a draw.

Keep in mind the main theme, paying special care to the manevouring of the white knight. Consistently and strongly preferring to avoid all opponent counterplay avoiding the templation to {quick,mis}play the position. This is the foundation of strong chess technique as displayed by a world champion. Therefore I will repeat it in bold: Do not hurry, Avoid/Prevent all counterplay.

Viva Karpov, but we'll get to that later.

In the iframe below you may find the lichess study with my analysis of the game. Click here if the iframe does not work for you. If you prefer to browse the analysis with your personal chess UI of choice, here is the PGN file for your convenience.

Note, the lichess study has chat open for everyone so feel free to share your comments and variations. Cloning is also open for everyone so you can base your analysis on this one. Please drop a comment with your study link if you clone so people reading the main study will be aware of your version as well.

Today's pick is a classical game from the 1920s. José Raúl Capablanca, Cuban chess player, world chess champion from 1921 to 1927 displays his characteristic simple and strong chess in Lake Hopatcong, in 1926, at the peek of his career against Géza Maróczy, Hungarian chess master, one of the leading players in the world in his time.

Let's jump right to the critical moment after White's move 34.

Position after 34.Rxc4, Black to move.

  1. Evaluate the position.
  2. Come up with strategical plans for both sides.
  3. Find the tactical implementation of your favourite plan.

In the iframe below you may find the lichess study with my analysis of the game and further questions. Click here if the iframe does not work for you. If you prefer to browse the analysis with your personal chess UI of choice, here is the PGN file for your convenience.

Note, the lichess study has chat open for everyone so feel free to share your comments and variations. Cloning is also open for everyone so you can base your analysis on this one. Please drop a comment with your study link if you clone so people reading the main study will be aware of your version as well.

Leela Chess Zero, akin to its proprietary predecessor AlphaZero, is an engine with a fundamentally different approach to search than that of the contemporary modern engines that are ruling the chess stratosphere. As a chess player, trainer and free software programmer I have been following the reddit thread and the lczero mailing list with great interest for a while. She is pretty new in the scene really but Leela is approaching the ELO rating of stockfish and friends slowly and firmly. As such it started make an impact on the general trend of chess programming already. Komodo-12.1.1 released earlier this week (2018.06.04) comes with a new feature to change its search algorithm: Use MCTS option may be enabled to use Monte Carlo Tree Search rather than Alpha–beta pruning which has been the state-of-art search algorithm in chess engine development and has been pushed to its limits over the last decade.

My main point of interest at this point surrounds around two questions:

  1. How different is LeelaChessZero for human vs. engine matches compared to her alpha-beta counterparts?
  2. How beneficial is LeelaChessZero analytically and didactically compared to e.g. Stockfish?

The second question may be too soon to answer yet but taking a sneak peek at the first question is fortunately possible. Simply browse through play.lczero.org and stand for a challenge. You may also use Leela as an UCI engine with your preferred chess interface. The preferred way for chess professional should be to use the engine via the UCI interface, as this public server presumably would have less horsepower than your personal computer, however the web interface is a quick and practical way to give this new member of the party a try. Driven by the curiousity of the aforementioned riddle about human vs. engine games in their arguably future shape and feeling motivated to contribute my gray matter as I do not own a GPU or much idle CPU, I have played a couple of games against it. I have analyzed the final game which was a memorable success for me. I managed to liquidate the game into an endgame which I think was slightly favourable for me. There were a few moments in the endgame where I think I could play better and gain substantial winning chances. Admittedly, having been using engines for chess analysis before and during tournaments for preparation for more than a decade now I had some educated guesses up my sleeve. In the analysis below I explained how that knowledge enabled me to make some concrete decisions to let Leela enter an endgame where I think she stands slightly worse. Leela, however, defended strongly in the endgame and the game resulted in a draw.

For those who want to delve deeper into the topic of computer chess analysis, I recommend the book Modern Chess Analysis by Robin Smith who is an International Correspondence Chess Grand Master since 2004 and as such a prime authority on the matter. To list further classics on the matter, John Nunn has written three books based analysis with endgame tablebases which are enlightening and takes a mathematician and international grandmaster's rational and artistic peek on the topic of Playing Chess with God, that is Retrograde Analysis of Certain Endgames, pioneered by Ken Thompson.

So here are my 4 plies on Leela. In the iframe below you may find the lichess study with my analysis of the game. I have not included many variations at this point but I have elaborated on the critical moments which I spotted as the turning points of the game preferring natural language over concrete variations. Click here if the iframe does not work for you. Note, the lichess study has chat open for everyone so feel free to share your comments and variations. Cloning is also open for everyone so you can base your analysis on this one. Please drop a comment with your study link if you clone so people reading the main study will be aware of your version as well.

Admittedly picking this game out of 4 games, 3 of which I lost with the Black pieces. Unfortunately I did not record them and was sad to see I could not get an export of them from the server. I do hope to follow up with more games with either colour using Leela as an UCI engine using SCIDvsPC though so stay tuned.

tl;dr I like Leela. She is a fairly strong opponent who does not make too much of those "computerish" moves, a concept that the chess players have been using in one form or the other about distinguishing some extremely nonintuitive engine moves from general human style of play.

Now, is Leela more human?

"In a position with more space, it is easier to find good moves."

MagnusCarlsen, 16th chess world champion

Upon his win against LevonAronian, Լևոն Գրիգորի Արոնյան, 3rd round of the Norway Chess 2018.

Thanking both great bright minds of our century. ArtIsFood. \o ♞f5g7e8g7g4!c6c4 oops! ChessHaiku \o.

"Now that everything is going so well, it's just a joy." ♘d2e4g5e4! Dear Magnus

Brief analysis by Mr. GM DanielKing, here.

You may find my analysis of the game in the lichess study sourced by the iframe below. Click here if the iframe does not work for you. Note, the lichess study has chat open for everyone so feel free to share your comments and variations. Cloning is also open for everyone so you can base your analysis on this one. Please drop a comment with your study link if you clone so people reading the main study will be aware of your version as well.

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