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Friday, November 5, 2021

My New Chess Programs and Engines

     Of late I have been doing a lot of tinkering with a couple of new chess programs on my laptop (Fritz 17 and Chessbase 16) and a slew of new engines, including Komodo 14. 
     Komodo 14 is unique in that in addition to the standard version there are seven other playing styles: aggressive, defensive, active, positional, endgame, beginner and human. 
     According to Komodo's site this allows you to simulate different styles or strengths of human opponents. And for analysis purposes, you can, for example, use the aggressive mode whenever you suspect that the position offers enough attacking potential for a win, or go into the positional mode if the position demands careful strategic play. 
     I decided to run an engine tournament of 5-minute games to test the various engines. Clearly Stockfish is still champion. 

     While looking at the CCLR engine rating site I noticed one of the top engines is Ethereal 13.25 64-bit 4CPU which is a commercial engine that I had never heard of. I noticed that it has not beaten any of the top engines, only drawn with them, but curiosity won out and I decided to check it out. 
     Ethereal can be downloaded in both a free (Standard) version and a commercial NNUE (Efficiently-Updated Neural Network) version. The commercial version costs $40. Visit site
     One review of the engine that I read described it as having an interesting playing style that reminded the reviewer of "a strong coffeehouse player." 
     The Standard (free) version will run on any 64-bit machine, with source provided for Linux users and binaries provided for Windows users. The NNUE version requires a CPU with the SSSE3 instruction set (which almost all CPUs have) and will not run on systems lacking these instructions. 
     I tested the engine (Standard version) in some 5-minute games against Stockfish 14.1 (SF scored +9 -0 =6) and Komodo Aggressive (Komodo won +4 -0 =1). Clearly Stockfish is still the best engine available and it's free. 
     Using Fritz 12, I tested Ethereal in what is known as the Sparring Mode. This mode is claimed to be "an excellent training level for moderately advanced players. The program plays a reasonably strong game, but at the same time makes tactical errors. If the program finds a move that allows the opponent to gain a tactical advantage in a clever way, it will play that move. It is a very realistic human style, the kind you encounter in a chess club." 
     You can select the grade of difficulty of the tactics: Very Easy (Elo of around 1400), Normal (players between 1700 and 1900) and very hard is for players from 1900 all the way up to GMs. At least that's what they claim. 
     I won two Sparring games against Ethereal in the Normal Mode, but I am not sure if it played like a 1700-1900 player or if it played in a coffeehouse style.

Tartajubow - Ethereal 13.07

Result: 1-0

Site: Sparring Mode, My Study

Date: 2021

Pirc Defense

[...] 1.e4 d6
1...c5 This was played in the first game. 2.♘f3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.♘xd4 ♘f6 5.♘c3 ♘c6 6.♗g5 e6 7.♕d2 ♗e7 8.O-O-O O-O 9.f4 h6 10.h4 Usual is 10.Bh4, but the text is also good. I have played this sacrifice several times in the past. 10...♘xd4 (10...hxg5 11.hxg5 ♘xd4 12.♕xd4 ♘g4 13.♕d2 Favors white.) 11.♕xd4
11.♗xh6 leaves black with a strong attack after 11...e5 12.♗g5 b5
11...hxg5 12.hxg5 ♘e8 Better was 12...Ng4 13.♕e3 The attack on the h-file wins. 13...d5 14.♕h3 f5 15.♕h7+ ♔f7 16.g6+ ♔f6 17.e5# 1-0 Tartajubow-Ethereal 13.07/Sparring 2021
2.d4 ♘f6 3.♗d3 e5 4.c3 d5 5.exd5
5.dxe5 ♘g4 6.♗e2 Black mistakenly resigned. After 6...Bc5 he is fine. 1-0 Mirumian,V (2505)-Nadanian,A (2390)/Ubeda 1998
5...♕xd5 6.dxe5 ♕xg2 7.♕f3 ♕xf3 8.♘xf3 ♘d5 Equals. Cruz Gomez, I (2045)-Iruzubieta Villaluenga,J (2430)/Santa Cruz de La Palma 2018
6.cxd4 ♘bd7 Better was 6.. .Nxd5. 7.♘c3 ♘b6 8.♘f3 ♘bxd5 I do not mind playing isolated d-Pawn positions. 9.O-O c6 10.♗g5
10.♘xd5 is an interesting variation. 10...♘xd5 11.♘g5 g6 (11...h6 12.♕h5 wins) 12.♕f3 ♕f6 13.♕xf6 ♘xf6 14.♖e1+ ♗e7 15.♗c4 ♘d5 16.♗xd5 White is slightly better owing to black's difficulty in completing his development. 16...cxd5
10...♗e7 Black is behind in development. 11.♖e1 After 11...O-O the position would have been equal. 11...♘b4 This is a serious mistake (no doubt because we were playing in the Sparring Mode) because black quickly gets into trouble on the e-file. 12.♗c4 Not bad, but more exact was 12.Bxf6 forcing black to seriously weaken his K-side. 12...O-O 13.a3 I was thinking long term strategy...moves like Rc1, Ba2-b1 and Qc3 with a K-side attack. After the text white's advantage is minimal.
13.♕b3 ♗f5
13...♘bd5 14.♗xf6 ♗xf6 15.♘xd5 cxd5 16.♗xd5 and white is practically winning.
14.♘e5 ♕xd4 15.♖ad1 ♕c5 16.♖c1 ♕b6 17.♘xf7 ♘bd5 18.♘xd5 ♘xd5 19.♘h6+ gxh6 20.♗xe7 ♕xb3 21.♗xb3 ♖fe8 22.♖cd1 white is winning.
13...♗g4 This is a tactical blunder (again, the type made in the Sparring Mode). Black can hold on after 13...Nbd5. (13...♘bd5 14.♘xd5 cxd5 15.♗d3 ♗e6 and white is only slightly better.) 14.♗xf6 ♗xf6 15.axb4 ♗xf3 16.♕xf3 ♕xd4 17.♕e4 ♕b6 18.♖e2 ♖fd8 19.♖ae1 ♕xb4 The program makes another Sparring Mode tactical mistake.
19...♖f8 was better, but white remains with a winning advantage. 20.♗a2 ♗d4 21.♗b1 g6 22.b5 cxb5 23.♘d5 ♕c5 24.b4 ♕c4 25.♗a2 and wins.
20.♗xf7+ ♔xf7 21.♕xb4 Here I resigned for my opponent... something you can't do in a real game!
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