30 October 2021

CCC C960 Blitz Championship

There's one more idea left from the recent post, Crossover Ideas from my Main Blog (October 2021):-
Review the recent CCC chess960 tournament • The semifinal finishes this weekend. Can we expect a final? Short answer: Probably.

Change that 'Probably' to 'Yes'. In the most recent post in the ongoing TCEC/CCC engine saga, TCEC Cup 9, CCC C960 Blitz Final : Both Underway (October 2021), I continued,

In the 'Chess960 Blitz Semifinals', Stockfish finished a point ahead of Dragon as both engines qualified for the final match. Only one game of their 40-game [semifinal] minimatch was decisive, with Stockfish winning. Lc0 lost three games to each of the two engines, winning none. The other three engines were far behind.

In the final match Stockfish beat Dragon +10-1=589. Yes, more than 98% of the final games were drawn. Earlier this year, in TCEC C960 FRC3 (March 2021), I reported,

In the 'FRC 3' final, KomodoDragon beat Stockfish by a score of +2-1=47. A 94% draw rate echoes the sort of result we expect from a traditional chess match (SP518 RNBQKBNR) between engines.

Note that the CCC's Dragon and the TCEC's KomodoDragon are the same engine. It's also worth noting that Stockfish switched to NNUE evaluation last year, while Dragon is also an NNUE engine, as I noted a year ago on my main blog in Komodo NNUE (November 2020). Is the high percentage of draws because they both use the same technology for evaluating positions?

The following chart shows the result of the CCC semifinal round. Stockfish and Dragon finished 1st and 2nd, ahead of 3rd place Lc0 and three other engines. I know the black background makes the chart hard to read, but the individual game results, especially the losses in red, are clearly discernible.

Stockfish didn't lose a single game during the event, while Dragon lost only one game, to Stockfish. As mentioned above, both engines beat Lc0 three times, which itself lost only a single game to the three engines in the bottom half of the crosstable. The bottom half is a sea of red.

Given that engines' evaluations for every move are available in the event's PGN game scores, perhaps there is something to be learned about the 960 different start positions. That investigation would make a good follow-up post.

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