30 July 2022


Earlier this month on my main blog, I posted Stockfish Wins TCEC Swiss 3 and CCC17 Blitz (July 2022). After 'TCEC Swiss 3':-
The site then launched FRC5, which is currently in the four engine 'Final League' stage (KomodoDragon is missing).

The 'Final League' served as a qualification event for the two engine 'Final Match'. The following chart shows the crosstables for both of the 'Final' events, which have completed.

Top: Final Match
Bottom: Final League

In the 'Final League', Stockfish and LCZero finished in a tie for 1st and 2nd to qualify for the 'Final Match'. That result came about after they tied their individual mini-match +4-4=0 and crushed the two last-placed engines in their other mini-matches. In the 'Final Match' Stockfish beat LCZero +17-13=20.

As for the remark, 'KomodoDragon is missing', the other member of the current engine triumvirate was eliminated at the semifinal stage. Through a specific combination of first and second place finishes in the groups of the preliminary stage, all three engines played in the same four-engine semifinal group. LCZero finished a half point ahead of Stockfish, which was a full point ahead of KomodoDragon, thereby eliminating KomodoDragon. For more about the specifics of the competition, see:-

An important section of the rules is worth highlighting:-

4. Openings books
a. All matchups until the Semileagues stage will be played from a randomly generated FRC aka Chess960 start position.
b. For the Semileagues, the Final League and the Final a shallow book will be used.

What does 'shallow book' mean? I couldn't find an explanation on the TCEC Wiki, but the site's !commands inform,

!mob • MOB - Minimalistic Openings Book made by Kan. The idea is to leave lots of choice to the engines and be as shallow as possible while providing an optimum of variety.

I imagine that definition was developed for the traditional start position SP518 and has been reused for chess960. My post on the previous event, TCEC C960 FRC4 (January 2022), looked at TCEC practices for chess960 opening books. To adapt a phrase from that post,

The researcher behind the 'shallow' analysis should make available his full analysis showing which positions were eliminated for which reasons.

That FRC4 post also referenced a couple of my own 'Iceberg' posts (November 2021) analyzing engine runtime data from TCEC FRC3. Add FRC5 to the backlog of events for this sort of analysis.

23 July 2022

Reddit Chess960

Last year, in SP864, Reddit, Chessgames.com (April 2021), I briefly introduced chess960 on Reddit. The forum has come a long way and is now under regular management.

Chess960, invented by Bobby Fischer

That snapshot of the current home page includes two excellent pinned questions:-

  • What can I do to make chess960 more popular so I don't have to wait so much for an opponent?
  • When is the next chess960 World Championship?

The answer to that second question includes news from '16 days ago':-

Next 9LX World Championship: The Fischer Random championship will be broadcasted by the end of October. The FRC will also mark the anniversary of the 1972 WCC Fischer - Spassky.

That's great news indeed. I hope we'll be hearing more about the event soon. The Reddit post suggests that the event will be held in Iceland.

There's nothing to prevent anyone from touting a chess960 tournament as a 'World Championship'. The last legitimate claimant to the title was the event I covered last month in FWFRCC PGN (June 2022), held in 2019 and won by Wesley So. Let's see how the Icelandic organizers justify their event as a World Championship.

25 June 2022


Last week's post, FWFRCC Game Scores (June 2022), started, 'The year 2019 was the year of the 'FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship' (FWFRCC)', then developed a table documenting the tournament's various stages. It finished,
That table should allow me to identify the individual game scores. The games from later stages are more important than those from earlier stages.

The first important stage, 'Qualifying Stage 3: Knockout Qualifier Phase [Q3]', consisted of six knockout (KO) events, each with 16 strong players. Let's look more closely at the first KO event [KO1], which was reported in Nepomniachtchi Qualifies For FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship (chess.com; 13 August 2019).

Each of the 15 KO1 matches had at least two games (some had more). Three of those games were embedded in the Chess.com news article. Embedded games have an 'analysis' icon (lower left) that opens an analysis window, which in turn has a 'share' icon (lower right) that displays the PGN, permitting its download. That's fine for embedded games, but what about the other games?

Each player on Chess.com has a profile page. For example, the winner of 'Q3-KO1' has a page titled GM Ian Nepomniachtchi (lachesisQ) - Chess Profile (chess.com). The profile pages lead to a page 'Chess Opening Explorer & Database', initialized for that player. Unfortunately, a help page How do I use the Game Explorer? (support.chess.com), informs,

Currently, the Explorer does not index Live Chess games shorter than 5|0, Chess960 games, or any games of fewer than four moves in length.

Fortunately, the site offers an API which is documented in Published-Data API (chess.com). For GM Nepomniachtchi, all of his Chess.com games are available via lachesisq/games/archives. One of the entries there is lachesisq/games/2019/08, i.e. the month when 'Q3-KO1' was played. The FWFRCC chess960 games are mixed in with other games that Nepomniachtchi played that month, but these could be separated.

We seem to have all the pieces to build a database of 2019 FWFRCC PGN game scores. It would be a non-trivial job to gather all of the games, but it should be possible.

18 June 2022

FWFRCC Game Scores

The year 2019 was the year of the 'FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship' (FWFRCC). After posting a dozen times on the event, I summarized them in FWFRCC Wrapup (December 2019). The summary post finished with a question:-
2019-11-23: 2019 FWFRCC Final Live • 'First question: where are the game scores?'

Where indeed? I returned to that question attempting to locate as many game scores as possible. The first step was to identify the many smaller events that went into the FWFRCC. While the info probably exists in several places, a useful reference is FIDE World Fischer Random Chess Championship Quarterfinals (chess.com; October 2019), which has a detailed explanation of all stages/phases. Following is a summary of their titles plus a code in brackets ('[]') for easy reference:-

Online Qualifying; Location: Chess.com
Qualifying Stage 1: Non-Titled Open Qualifying Phase [Q1]
Qualifying Stage 2: Titled Play-In Qualifier Phase [Q2]
Qualifying Stage 3: Knockout Qualifier Phase [Q3]

Live Quarterfinals, Semifinals & Finals; Location: Baerum, Norway
1. Quarterfinals Stage 1 [L-QF]
2. Quarterfinals Stage 2 [-"-]
3. Semifinals [L-SF]
4. Finals and Third Place Match [L-FI]

The following table cross references my blog posts with the stages/phases listed above. It includes only the last post for a particular phase, which might not have been mentioned in the title of the post. For example, the 'So Beats Carlsen' post includes a writeup of the semifinals, with relevant links to Chess.com. A couple of Chess.com pages are also mentioned in the table, because they include links to the many individual events that made up the stage.

Blog Posts
[L-FI] 2019-11-23: 2019 FWFRCC Final Live
[L-SF] 2019-11-16: So Beats Carlsen in FWFRCC Final
[L-QF] 2019-10-19: Quarterfinals of FWFRCC Completed
[Q3] 2019-09-21: Phase Three of FWFRCC Completed
[Q2] 2019-08-17: Phase Three of FWFRCC Underway; Chess.com: 2019 Fischer Random Play-In Titled Qualifier Results [12 tournaments]
[Q1] 2019-06-22: Titled Players Join the FWFRCC; Chess.com: World Fischer Random Championship: Qualified Players [32 tournaments plus 1st 6 (of 12) titled tournaments]

That table should allow me to identify the individual game scores. The games from later stages are more important than those from earlier stages.

28 May 2022

2001 Leko - Adams on Geocities

As long as I'm on the subject of chess960 history, seen in last week's Bobby Fischer in 1996 (May 2022), here's another blast from the past that I discovered recently. These links are all from Archive.org, returning material originally found on a Geocities.com site, 'The Realm of the Citadel':-

The pages aren't dated, so I've organized them by page name: Fischerandom1/-2/-6. The missing page numbers (-3/-4/-5) are about pairs of games from the match. The third pâge on my list of links (no.6) has a photo from the match, reproduced here.

I've already posted a few times on the Leko - Adams match:-

Those references date the match to June 2001, meaning the Geocities pages were written some time after that. The last page in the series (no.6) has a good summary of the situation at the time of the match.

Peter Leko and Michael Adams were chosen as the most logical choices to play for the first Fischer Random title. Both players are in the top five in the January 2001 world rankings joining former and current world champions Kasparov, Anand and Kramnik.

Today, nobody injects more new super novelties to the known theories than Peter Leko. Leko has actually played some Fischer Random games with the inventor of the game himself, Bobby Fischer, who as everyone knows happens to be his friend although he says he prefers to keep the memories to himself.

There's more to explore here, but I ran out of time.

21 May 2022

Bobby Fischer in 1996

Yesterday in a post on my main blog, Bobby Fischer Day by Day (May 2022), I introduced 'a site that offers [Bobby Fischer] newspaper clippings in chronological order'. What can we learn from that site about the development of chess960?

Last year in a post on this blog, The Early Evolution of Fischerandom (February 2021), I listed other posts that had tracked developments in the first half of the 1990s. I wrote,

We see that Fischer's early [chess960] activities were bunched into two time periods. The first period took place in 1992-1993, when Fischer developed the rules of his emerging invention. The second period took place in 1995-1996, when Fischer revealed his invention to the world.

A key event in that period was the announcement of 'Fischerandom' in June 1996. The site that records Fischer newspaper clippings is in fact a family of blogs, where each blog covers a full calendar year. The blog covering 1996, Bobby Fischer 1996, currently consists of only two posts:-

The February 1996 post answered the 'Where Is' question with 'Budapest, Hungary'. It confirms another of my own posts from last year, tracking Fischer's movements from 1992 and afterwards: From Sveti Stefan to Budapest (March 2021).

All of the posts in the family of Fischer blogs include a link to the original clipping. The June 1996 post links to Bobby Fischer Presents New Chess Game (newspapers.com), and adds a transcript of the clipping:-

Buenos Aires, Argentina (AP) -- Former world chess champion Bobby Fischer wants to bring the fun back into chess. To do it, he has created "Fischerandom," a computerized shuffler that randomly distributes chess pieces on the back row of the chess board at the start of each game. That creates 960 possible variations of starting positions -- the first modification to the game in 500 years, the Argentine Chess Club said.

While that appears to be a great start to clippings about the history of chess960, it's the only mention that I could find on the Fischer blogs. I checked all years from 1992, the year of the second Fischer - Spassky match, through 2001, the year of Fischer's most infamous radio broadcasts, and came up empty handed.

30 April 2022

ChessBase CKO

Last month an intriguing comment appeared against an old post on my main blog, A Database of Chess960 Start Positions (December 2008). It said,
I'm looking for a key file (*.CKO) to use with base of games chess 960 with ChessBase 14.

Since the last time I used ChessBase software was, well, never, I first had to decipher the request. What's a *.CKO file?

I already knew that ChessBase management is no fan of chess960; see Purported Problems with Chess960 (April 2018) for the nitty gritty. If that isn't convincing, the user manual for Fritz 18 has a little more than one page out of 425 on Fischer's greatest invention, titled '3.2.10 Chess 960'. The space in front of '960' pretty much guarantees that it will never be found in any normal search. The page instructs you to 'pick a number for one of the predefined Fischer-Random positions', i.e. no built-in random position generator. After that,

Games you have played against the program are saved in the file Autosave-960.cbh in the users folder. Saved Chess 960 games in a database are given with the number of the predefined position with which they were played.

Back to *.CKO files, the best explanation I could find was ChessBase Support - Details : A tip for Full Analysis. It starts,

The function "Full analysis" on Fritz & Co produces a complete analysis of one or several games, including variations, textual commentary and even opening references. The analysis also contains indications of games which were played with that opening system.

For 'indications of games', I understand 'references to games' from another Chessbase database. The explanation continues,

With the help of a large reference database the program is able to classify the opening played in the game, integrate recent games for comparison and indicate the position at which the game being analysed diverges from opening theory.

How does that work?

If no openings key is present in the database you have defined as your reference database, the program cannot produce a reference. [...] If there should be no openings classification, the program automatically offers to classify them by means of a pre-existing key. [...] An openings key always has the file extension *.CKO.

Bingo. A chess960 CKO file would somehow index the 960 start positions. I also found references to a Chessbase CPO file ('positions, openings'). This might serve the same purpose for chess960 as a CKO file, although actionable information on this filetype was even sparser than for the CKO extension.

Will ChessBase someday offer a CKO/CPO solution for chess960? Maybe, but I wouldn't bet any money on it. If the company doesn't see a need to offer a random position at the start of a chess960 game, it won't see a need for more sophisticated functionality.