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Subject: Day 1 for LambChop at CCT3 (long, with test positions)

Author: Peter McKenzie

Date: 22:40:18 05/26/01


Leading up to this CCT3 was a little different to previous computer chess
tournaments I've played in.  Usually with an upcoming tournament I will have
been working hard on my program for a month or two, and then spend a few weeks
of testing to make sure the latest version is stable.

This time, I haven't made any major changes on the engine for some months as
most of my time has been spent getting the winboard and UCI compatibility up to
scratch for the Winboard II CD.  Plus I had a decent break from computer chess
altogether.

Still, I knew my engine was pretty solid as it has been playing well in standard
on ICC recently, lurking around the bottom of the top 20 list (Cosmicjoke
account).


Day one didn't start well with me oversleeping the start.  I woke up at 1:30am
and thought "I'll just grab another few minutes sleep" but then managed to sleep
through my alarm and next time I looked it was 2:40am and I was 40minutes late!

A quick dash thru to the computer room and I logged in to find my opponent
(Scott & Monsoon) kindly waiting for me.  Apparently Bruce had tried to call me
and managed to wake up another Peter McKenzie in New Zealand, who needless to
say wasn't amused!

Anyway, I was only the 2nd last game to start so not too bad.  The game went
pretty well with LambChop choosing a slightly unusual variation on the black
side of the Ruy Lopez.  Fortunately it was a solid line, and although it might
be inferior it was the type of line that allows plenty of play for both sides.
Chop accepted isolated doubled b-pawns in return for active queenside play and
managed to put Monsoon in a bind.  The endgame was not easy, and there were
perhaps drawing chances for Monsoon.

[D]8/8/4p1pp/1k2p3/1p1pP2P/1Pr2P2/PK4P1/2R5 w - -

Does Rxc3 draw here?  I don't know, but perhaps its not as good for black as it
looks?

Round two was black vs Shredder, tough game but Chop drew the game with the same
pairing at CCT2 so I was optimistic.  Unfortunately, things didn't turn out well
right from the word go.  Chop played the benoni opening, and played down a dodgy
variation.  First search out of book showed -0.5 and things went down hill
rapidly after that.  Oh well, better work on that book!  Full credit to Shredder
for the way it pressed home the attack in chanceless fashion.

Round three and Chop's first white, this time against Tinker.  The opening
looked rather uninspiring to me, and Chop too thought it was about even or a
slight plus to black.  Tinker meanwhile was rather optimistic and showed over
+0.5 for alot of the early moves, probably thought white's king was in more
danger than it actually was.

Still, I was relieved when the minor pieces were swapped off as this meant the
holes around Chop's king were unlikely to be exploited.  The resulting heavy
piece endgame was better for LambChop as his rooks were already connected and
happily sitting on open files.

Pressure was applied to f7, resulting in this position:

[D]1r3rk1/2R2pp1/4p2p/2Q1P2q/1p3R1P/6P1/P4PK1/8 b - -

Tinker played Rfe8?! (better to sit tight perhaps), and Chop happily swapped 2
Rooks for Queen and f7 pawn.  Tinker let one of its rooks stray offside allowing
Chop to make short work of what could have been a very interesting endgame:

[D]4rk2/3Q2p1/4p2p/4P3/1p3P1P/6PK/Pr6/8 w - -

Here f5 was decisive.

Round 4 and LambChop was up against GNU Chess which had a bit of a roll going on
day 1.  The game started well enough, with both programs out of book early and
Chop getting an edge out of the opening.  An isoloated queen pawn position
eventuated where Chop had more than enough activity.

The activity was converted into a passed pawn and what appeared to be a bit of a
bind.  But GNU defended solidly and Chop played a couple of those aimless moves
that Christophe was talking about!!

[D]8/1b2q1kp/2prPpp1/1p6/p2PQ3/P7/BP2R1PP/7K b - -

Firstly, looking at this position it is clear that white has an advantage.  The
passed pawn is well supported, and although it is currently blockaded this is
tying down black's most powerful piece.  Also, the Bb7 isn't too flash (although
it is certainly threatening to break free).

The problem is there is no obvious way to make progress, so around this point
LambChop played a couple of aimless moves which turned out to be WORSE than
useless.  In the above position, Chop played Kh1 which gave GNU some really
nasty back rank tactics a few moves down the track.

This is one of those positions where Chop keeps switching between various moves,
and it just 'lucked out' with Kh1.  I would prefer it to play Qe3, but its not
clear to me what sort of evaluation term would make it play that :-)  Curious to
know what other programs like here.

This brings us to the decisive mistake by LambChop:
[D]3r4/1b2q1kp/2p1Ppp1/1p6/p2PQ3/P7/BP2R1PP/7K w - -

Here Chop played Qe3? which I believe loses by force.  Correct is Qd3 and its
still a game, but Chop doesn't have the tactical grunt to find that within the
time control.  It takes Chop 14ply and several minutes to find Qd3...

Qe3 allows c5 which releasing the Bb7 and destroying white's centre with the
help of back rank mate threats.
The lines after Qe3 are rather cute:

1.Qe3? c5! 2.dxc5 Rd1+ 3.Rd1 Qxc5 4.Qxc5 Rxd1+ 5.Qg1 Rxg1 6.Kxg1 Kf8 winning the
e6 pawn.
2.Rd2 as played in the game is similar after cxd4 3.Rxd4 Qc5 4.Rd7+ Rxd7 5.Qxc5
Rd1+ 6.Qg1 Rxg1 7.Kxg1 Kf8 etc.

The endgame was pretty painful, there were just enough drawing chances to hold
out a little hope and Chop fought on pretty well but in the end it was too
tough.


Not the best of days for Chop, but in this game you have to take the lows with
the highs and hope for you have more highs in the long run.

Overall alot of fun, and no disputes yet either!  The draw was a bit slow in
being made up in the early rounds, but they seem to have that sorted out now.
Looking forward to day 2 and hopefully a few less deep blue discussions in
channel 64 :-)

cheers,
Peter


Oh yeah:
Copyright, 2001, by Peter McKenzie.



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