11 January 2014

Year-end News from LSS

Let's turn our attention away from chess960 on the ICC (last seen in Fischer and 'Wild Variant 22') and turn it toward LSS (last seen in Games Between Skillful Players). In the 'Skillful Players' post, I wrote,
Continuing with my copy of the LSS database, I identified games between players rated 2000 or more. Of the 7308 games on file, a little more than 100 games met this criteria. [...] The site now offers annual 'LSS Chess960 Championships', but the 2012 edition has only completed the preliminary stage, where there was just a single pairing of 2000+ players. We should see more games between top players as the semifinal and final stages complete.

In November, the 1st LSS Chess960 Championships (2012) finished with an unbreakable tie for first place, as shown in the following chart.

The co-winners, Valery Nemchenko and Marek Sadowski, tied their games with each other and had perfect scores against the two other players. Since the drawn games might lack tension, I looked instead at their games against the third-placed player, hoping to find one to use on this blog. I ran into two challenges.

The first challenge applies to correspondence chess games in general. There are so many dynamics in the course of a game between first class players, that it is almost a hopeless task for an outsider to dissect it intelligently. I decided to concentrate on a specific position in the chosen game. Which position to choose? The most instructive approach is to narrow the possibilities -- at one point the game is equal and at a later point the game is objectively lost. A critical position must lie somewhere between the two points.

The second challenge applies to chess960 games. In traditional chess, where we understand the start position and initial moves so well, we usually have a good sense of the dynamics as the game emerges from the opening. The play is either balanced or one side has an advantage. That gives us one of our two endpoints to search for a critical position. In chess960 we're never really sure which dynamics were in the start position (SP) and which were introduced by the players' moves. Engines aren't as much help here, because their opening evaluation heuristics are usually taken directly from traditional chess.

That is the main reason why I prefer analyzing chess960 openings on this blog. It's the phase of the game which is the most difficult for experienced players of traditional chess. Many chess960 middlegames and all endgames are better suited for my main blog.

Games, games, games; ultimately that's what chess960 is all about. In January, LSS released a new edition of the games database.

Complete LSS Chess960 Database upto December 2013 with a total of 8874 games in zipped PGN-Format for 1.3 MB

Over the next few weeks, I'll load those games into a database, perform some simple statistical analysis, and discuss the results. One idea just came to mind : identify SPs where an initial Pawn advance into the center looks problematic.


HarryO said...

I downloaded the LSS 2014 database and searched the statistics for the SP's we identified as difficult for black to play over at my blog:


What I found is that there are no games for players above 2000 ratings which is sad!

Out of the total of all games, incredibly, every SP in our set comes out with almost the identical statistic:

White = Black
draw < 20%

There was only ever one player who found the tricky 1.Ng3!? in the infamous SP864 and that ended in mate in #3!

1.Ng3 c5
2.Nh5 Bxh2??
3 Nxg7#

GeneM said...

Mark.W wrote:
One idea just came to mind : identify SPs where an initial Pawn advance into the center looks problematic.

I would be interested in whether (or when) the opening move is advisable to be a pawn push in from of a ROOK that starts on d1 or e1 (or d8, e8).
Reuben Fine has no "opening principle" about the rook piece; but I think that is an artifact of the traditional setup.